The other day, Seth Godin wrote about the difference between the immediate and the important.

Chris Guillebeau tweeted about happiness vs meaning.

And on an episode of the Tim Ferriss Podcast (though I can’t remember which!) Tim mentioned, “most people mistake comfort for happiness”. That quote has been rattling around my brain ever since.

The message is clear in all three instances: if you prioritize short-term thinking and your immediate comfort, you lose in the long term. The novel will never be written, the mountain never climbed, the startup never started, and the family never built.

I write this on the eve of a winter hiking trip to the White Mountains. It won’t be a particularly tough hike but it certainly won’t be comfortable either. I’ll have to wake up and leave Boston before dawn, temperatures will be around 20F, there will be snow and wind, I’m hiking with a new group so I won’t know many people. It would be easier to stay cuddled up in bed but once I get to the mountain it will be worth it. I’ll meet new people, learn new skills, and I’ll enjoy the majesty of the outdoors in the winter. Few people truly experience the beauty of the world this time of year.

I try to keep this mantra of comfort vs happiness in mind in all things. It’s easy to keep working at the same company every day if they provide a good salary and a fun environment, but is the work fulfilling? It’s scary to travel to far-off places with no plan, but the reward of learning new things about the world and about myself is worth it. It’s difficult to get out of bed in the dark, in the cold, but that mountain isn’t going to climb itself.

Update: This view was the reward for my hike up Mt Avalon and Mt Field.

Mt Field

Mt Washington